Notre Dame Squeezes Past Villanova 2-1 in Opener of Three-Game Series
April 11, 2008
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - A top-notch pitchers' duel between two of the best arms in the Big East came down to the final pitch but the end result stopped a seven-game winning streak for Villanova (15-16, 4-6 Big East), which was edged 2-1 by Notre Dame (19-9-1, 8-2 Big East) in the opener of a three-game series on Friday afternoon at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth.
The rematch between right-handed pitchers Jordan Ellis (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) of the Wildcats and David Phelps (4-3, 3.31 ERA) of the Fighting Irish - the pair pitched against each other in the Big East Tournament last season - provided a thrilling storyline to the game and lived up to the billing. Ellis went eight strong innings and surrendered just one run, while Phelps scattered just five hits and nearly went the distance to pick up his fourth win of the season.
Villanova scored an unearned run in the bottom of the second inning and then rode the coattails of Ellis for much of the game. After escaping trouble with inning-ending double plays in each of the first two innings, the Wildcat ace settled into a groove and wound up allowing seven hits, walking four and striking out six.
The only damage done to Ellis came in the top of the eighth inning when Even Sharpley doubled with one out and pinch-runner Ryne Intlekofer scored on a single by Jeremy Barnes three pitches later. Sharpley hit a line drive into right field that bounced in front of senior James Dolbier (Lebanon, N.J.) and then hopped away for a two-base hit. After surrendering the game-tying hit, Ellis came back and retired the side on a pair of pop-up outs.
In the top of the ninth inning, Billy Boockford drew a leadoff walk against junior Josh Eidell (Norristown, Pa.) and pinch-runner Brayden Ashdown advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Eidell got leadoff man Brett Lilley to fly out to left-center field but with two down David Mills lined a single to center field to score the eventual winning run.
By no means was Villanova about to go quietly in the bottom of the ninth and Dolbier singled with one out after fighting off a 1-and-2 pitch. After a fielder's choice had the Wildcats down to their final out, sophomore Justin Bencsko (Pompton Plains, N.J.) worked a five-pitch walk and chased Phelps, who had thrown 122 pitches. Reliever Kyle Weiland came in and threw a wild pitch that moved both Villanova runners into scoring position, but he recovered to strike out junior Wesley Borden (State College, Pa.) for his fourth save of the season.
Dobier finished 2-for-4 and drove in the lone Wildcat run when he scored senior Dan Terpak (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) from third in the second inning. Terpak led off the inning with a walk and with none out reached third base on a failed pickoff attempt throwing error by Phelps. Terpak added a double later in the game and Borden and freshman Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.) each had hits in the game for Villanova.
Mills was 3-for-4 and Sharpley 2-for-3 for the Fighting Irish, who avenged a 3-2 loss to the Wildcats last season that knocked five-time defending champion Notre Dame out of the Big East Tournament. Ellis was the winning pitcher in that game and Eidell saved it to help Villanova notch its first postseason win in a decade.
In Friday afternoon's rematch, Ellis did some of his best work against Fighting Irish leading hitter A.J. Pollock. After striking out just four times in his first 125 plate appearances of the season prior to today's game, Pollock whiffed three times in four trips to the plate against Ellis and finished the day 0-for-5.
The second game of the three-game set will be on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. and offers another enticing pitching matchup. Sophomore Brian Streilein (Staten Island, N.Y.) makes the start for the Wildcats and opposes lefty Wade Korpi of Notre Dame.
NOTES: The seven-game winning streak was the longest for Villanova since 2004 ... The Wildcats had also won three straight and four of their last five Big East contests ... Villanova was 11-1 at home and was riding a 10-game home winning streak entering the game ... After turning 14 double plays in the team's first 27 games of the year, the Wildcats turned nine double plays in the last four contests ... The top three hitters in the Villanova lineup went 0-for-12 with five strikeouts against Phelps.